Jan. 23, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following feature article was released today by Social Development.
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Seniors represent the voice of knowledge and experience, says Dorothy Lockhart, senior goodwill ambassador for the Province of New Brunswick.
"Our age group has lots to contribute," Lockhart said. "We have some very smart seniors in our province. We want to stay active and involved, and need only be approached for our help. We have tons of knowledge and experience to offer, and you'll be surprised by the good time you'll have with us."
Lockhart, 83, was the first senior goodwill ambassador to be appointed when the program was established in 1991. For the past 18 years, she has worked tirelessly for a variety of worthy causes, while promoting the province she chose to call home 65 years ago.
"I arrived in New Brunswick by train from Nova Scotia in 1944," Lockhart said. "It was a different world then. I was shocked by how rural the province was, but I grew to love the place, especially York County, where I have spent the biggest part of my life. It's been a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to promote the very area that I like best in New Brunswick."
Lockhart has a special affection for the capital city and North Lake Parish in York County, where she once maintained a summer home. She still enjoys visiting friends in the lake country. Meanwhile, her volunteer work as senior goodwill ambassador involves her in the activities of several communities in the region. She attends parades, festivals and citizenship ceremonies; visits nursing homes and schools; attends Boy Scout meetings; speaks at public events to promote tourism and the ambassador program; collects supplies for the homeless; knits for the needy; stays involved with her church and the Devon Seniors Club; and has supported the work of the IODE for the past 50 years. She also supports other seniors from her home, through telephone reassurance.
"Loneliness can be a big issue for seniors," Lockhart said. "Just to have someone to talk to makes a huge difference. It's so important to reach out to seniors in this way. They like to know someone cares and is just a phone call away. It helps them with their day."
Lockhart says serving as a senior goodwill ambassador has enriched her life, kept her active, and allowed her to meet new people. She thoroughly enjoys spending time with children. One of her most rewarding experiences has been teaching children at St. Mary's First Nation in Fredericton.
"I was very pleased when they made me an honorary member of their community," Lockhart said. "They are my good friends. I even have my own aboriginal costume and name, Bzazam, meaning the Star."
A few years ago, Lockhart had the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Old Government House. She notes that her next engagement as ambassador will be on Robbie Burns Night. She looks forward to hearing the bagpipes play as she marks the annual event held in celebration of Scotland's national poet. She has no intention of letting her age get in the way of her plans.
"Seniors like to be independent," Lockhart said. "To do it, we have to maintain a routine, pace ourselves, watch our health, and stay in touch with people. I believe in taking each day as it comes and live it. The more you do to enjoy life, the better you feel about yourself. Mind, body and spirit - that's what it's all about. I'd love to do even more if I could."
Minister of State for Seniors Brian Kenny said that Lockhart helped to pioneer the senior goodwill ambassador program.
"Senior volunteers such as Mrs. Lockhart provide a valuable service to our province in helping to make New Brunswick a place where you can be yourself and be better at any age," Kenny said.
The senior goodwill ambassador program promotes a positive image of New Brunswick to residents and visitors alike. There are 35 senior goodwill ambassadors representing, on a volunteer basis, each of the province's 15 counties. They are appointed for a two-year term by the minister of state for seniors.
The Senior and Healthy Aging Secretariat is accepting nominations from organizations and groups, for individuals interested in becoming senior goodwill ambassadors. The deadline for applications is March 6. For more information on the senior goodwill ambassador program, or to obtain an application form, contact the Senior and Healthy Aging Secretariat online, or by telephone at 506-457-6811.
MEDIA CONTACT: Judy Cole, Communications, Seniors Services, Senior and Healthy Aging Secretariat, 506-444-3522.